Blackcurrant Baked Alaska: A Guest Post from Poires au Chocolat

As mentioned in last week’s post, I’m currently in Bali on honeymoon with my brand new Carnivorous Husband (!). This second guest post is written by the lovely Emma of Poires au Chocolat. Emma’s blog was one of the first food blogs I ever read and her recipes and talent are incredible. This baked alaska is no exception and I can’t wait to try out the recipe once I’m back in England and autumn has arrived.

Back when I first met Kate we bonded over ice cream. Ice cream and a love for David Lebovitz’s recipes for ice cream. From that (excellent) starting point, our friendship blossomed into other forms of dessert and real life.

As a result, I knew that this guest post had to involve ice cream. I’ve made a few baked alaskas over the years but I’ve never nailed down a recipe I loved. This post seemed like a good time to finally sort it out. Continue reading

Raspberry & Pistachio Eton Mess

Raspberry & Pistachio Eton Mess Meringues will always make me think of my Granny.

Not my paternal grandmother – a skilled home baker whose larder was always stocked with a homemade chocolate cake, fluffy scones or knobbly rock buns the size of a fist – but my mother’s Mum. The same amazing woman who would serve stale Maltesers had little interest in baking, producing meringues from a packet and filling them with cream from a can, yet somehow this dessert remains utterly magical in my memory. Continue reading

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

lemon ice cream

Crisp, slightly chewy meringue stirred through a rich lemony custard

The first time I tasted this ice cream, I knew I had to share it with you.

The flavour of frozen lemon is something pretty much everyone is familiar with. Whether you first tasted it in lemon ice lollies, lemon sorbet or even a slush puppy (granita to those of you who are Italian or have ever tried the slightly more sophisticated version of the lurid slop on sale in cinemas around the country), I’m pretty confident you’ll be able to find at least one childhood memory filled with that mouth-puckeringly sharp sweetness, shards of icy lemon melting on your tongue.

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Lemon, Almond & Blackberry Slice

lemon meringue

Almond dacquoise & meringue are layered with lemon curd cream & toasted nuts

A major occupational hazard of baking is the mess.

If you’ve ever left sticky fingerprints on a work surface, mistakenly smeared chocolate behind your ear, walked flour footprints across the kitchen or somehow managed to turn every pan and utensil you own into a pile of washing up, you’ll know what I mean.

My tiny little space for baking might be more hazardous than most. Because it’s so small, every cupboard in the kitchen is crammed to its limit, herbs and spices jostling for space with packets of pulses and only one dedicated place to keep all my baking ingredients. It’s not that I haven’t tried to encroach on other cupboards, but after storing chocolate in the same place as curry powder resulted in it taking on a strangely spicy flavour, I’ve returned to a single space to store my flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts and syrups for fear of cross contamination. Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

peanut butter mousse cake

Chocolate peanut butter mousse layered with chewy peanut meringue

Chocolate mousse. Two words, a hundred variations, a thousand different expectations.

Ever since I made this favourite little dessert on holiday in Italy, I’ve wanted to write about it on the blog. My usual recipe for chocolate mousse is simplicity itself, rich and elegant, steeped in childhood memories and consisting of just two ingredients: chocolate and eggs. It’s the ultimate store cupboard recipe (don’t tell me you’ve not got chocolate on your shelves, I don’t believe you), and involves minimum effort for maximum impact, making it an easy go-to recipe to have in your repertoire.

Perhaps a little too easy. Continue reading

Raspberry, Peach & Hazelnut Eton Mess

peach eton mess

Eton mess reinvented with sweet ripe peaches, fresh raspberries & toasted hazelnuts

Where do you stand when it comes to freezers? Are they a baker’s best friend, a modern monstrosity or simply a necessary evil?

If you like to bake as much as I do, you’ll be familiar with the issue of leftovers. While our household has as large an appetite for sweet treats as the next (ok, possibly ever so slightly larger), sometimes there’s simply more than we can manage. And while one of the best things about baking is sharing the spoils with family and friends, if they’re not around the freezer can be a lifesaver. Continue reading

Brutti Ma Buoni Biscuits

hazelnut meringue cookies

Brutti ma buoni – ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringue biscuits

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Despite this age old idiom, evaluating things by their appearance is sadly second nature in so many circumstances in life. Appearance influences the big decisions – it is said that in an interview, you have just seven seconds to make a good impression – but also the little ones: the quality of an apple, the content of a book, how delicious a dessert is going to be.

I’ve talked before on this blog about the pitfalls of style over substance when it comes to food. Incredible wedding cakes covered with beautifully crafted decorations concealing bland or dry sponge; slicks of sauce on a plate so small as to make little contribution to flavour; an artfully placed sprig of mint that you have to push to one side without eating.

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Chocolate & Hazelnut Marjolaine

hazelnut_meringue_cake

Layers of hazelnut & chocolate meringue, vanilla & praline cream & chocolate ganache

While Italian food will always hold a special place in my heart, when it comes to desserts I have to admit it’s the French who really know what they’re talking about. Their puds are good. Too good, perhaps. Elegant, flawless and invariably involving multiple stages, these incredible feats of confection can often feel beyond the realm of your average home baker, appearing more frequently in the pages of a restaurant menu or the window of your local patisserie than on a private kitchen table. Recipes requiring rounds of piping bags, pints of cream and the patience of a saint aren’t everyone’s idea of fun, and a fancy French gâteau can be altogether far flightier than a dependable British pud.

That said, sometimes you need to take a leap of faith. It’s easy to stay in your kitchen comfort zone and shy away from anything that sounds too tricky, but where’s the fun in that? Continue reading

Chestnut Meringue Cake

meringue_cake

Crispy, chewy, creamy chestnut meringue cake

With Christmas just around the corner, thoughts are turning to festive food. Turkeys, geese and glistening hams have already been ordered, mincemeat made for perfect pies, salmon smoked, butter brandied and puddings laden with boozy fruit stored. In the last week or so there’s been a creeping chill in the air, and suddenly all this hearty winter fare feels just that little bit more tempting.

For most, a Christmas spread wouldn’t be complete without stuffing, and when I think of stuffing, chestnuts come to mind. Associated with warmth and winter, chestnuts are in their element when roasted over hot coals, the toasty smells wafting temptingly through the streets as vendors tout their treats to passers by. The Christmas Song, composed in 1946 and sung by Nat King Cole, is alternatively titled ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ and conjures up all the cosily romantic images we so strongly associate with Christmas. There’s never been a better time to cook with these strong, sweet, shiny nuts.

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Praline Meringues with Frozen Maple Mousse

praline_maple_meringue

Last night Carniverous Boyfriend and I headed South of the river to my parents’ house for our first BBQ of the year (woohoo!). After the glorious sunshine of last weekend the weather didn’t quite deliver, but it was definitely warm enough to be outside. Sipping a glass of cold prosecco as the smoky smell of chargilled meat filled the air,  I started to feel like summer could be on its way.

My Mum asked me to bring a pudding and, knowing my Dad had been put in charge of buying the meat, I decided to go for something light and summery to cleanse our palates after the protein onslaught. Platters of rare sirloin steak, garlicky chicken supreme and three different types of sausages later, a delicately creamy dessert proved exactly what the doctor ordered.

praline_meringues

These praline meringues are crispy, delicious and so simple to make, the brown sugar and praline adding a delicious nutty crunch which works well against the smooth maple mousse. I opted to freeze my mousse for an extra contrast of textures, but I think it would work just as well without. And if you’re feeling really lazy, you could forgo the mousse altogether and serve with a dollop of thick cream or Greek yoghurt, drizzling a little maple syrup over the top to finish.

Praline meringues with frozen maple mousse
Serves 8 comfortably (depending on the size you make your meringues!)

Pecan praline

  • A handful of pecan nuts
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Mix the pecans and maple syrup together then spread on the tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden – the maple syrup will caramelize around the nuts, creating a delicious crunchy praline. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray.
  3. Chop the cool pecan praline roughly to a chunky crumb, leaving aside a few whole pecans to decorate later.

Pecan praline meringues

  • 4 egg whites
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl to a soft peak. Add the soft brown sugar and continue to whisk to form very firm peaks. Finally fold in the caster sugar and praline crumbs with a large metal spoon, leaving as much air in the meringue as possible.
  3. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking tray. I used a dessert spoon to make nine even sized meringues, slightly spaced apart.  You could vary this but remember you’ll need to adjust cooking times according to size.

praline_meringue

  1. Cook for one hour at 120 degrees C, then reduce the oven temperature to 100 degrees C and cook for another hour. They should be hard when you tap the outside, and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray.
  2. Store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to assemble.

praline_meringue

Frozen maple syrup mousse

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 100g maple syrup
  • 425 ml double cream
  • A pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Whisk the 3 egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl until thick and foamy. Warm the maple syrup over low heat until nearly boiling, then pour over the egg yolks and continue whisking over a bain marie until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and continue whisking until cold. Put in the fridge to chill further.

 maple_mousse

  1. Softly whip the cream and fold into the chilled egg yolk and syrup mixture. Put back in the fridge while you complete the final stage.
  2. Whip the egg whites to firm peaks with the pinch of sea salt. Fold in the chilled syrup, cream and egg yolk mixture then freeze.

Assembly:

Put the meringue on a plate. Using an ice cream scoop, place a large dollop of maple mousse on top. Decorate with remaining pralines.

delicious_dessert

You could also make flatter meringues and stack in layers with the mousse for something  bit fancier. And if you have any leftover mousse you can serve in little ramekins like the one below. Enjoy!

individual_mousse